Monday, November 3, 2014

That time I went to Zermatt for three hours...

The weekend before last (Saturday the 18th, to be exact) I went on a nice little train trip to Zermatt. If you don't know what/where that is, I will explain.

Zermatt is a nice little town in the middle of the Alps in the south of Switzerland. It's famous for it's view of the Matterhorn (no, not the Disney ride. The actual mountain) and I'm sure something else, but mostly just the mountains. It's about a four hour train ride from Geneva. A gorgeous four hour train ride. So I went there Saturday for kicks and giggles. I went alone (no, I did not hike that's dangerous. I took a leisurely stroll up a hill.) and with only my thoughts. So...first gorge yourself on pictures. Then prepare for some reflections.

SO, let's begin.

As I rode the train around Lake Geneva to the mountains surrounding the area towards Zermatt, I thought of a lot of things. One of the things that most occurred to me was that A) the mountains looked like sleeping dragons or some great mythical beasts, which had the fantasy nerd in me soaring; and B) I've never once felt small when I look at mountains. I think that's one of the things you hear a lot from people: huge mountains, the ocean, the night sky with a million stars make them feel insignificant. I've never felt that; instead, I've felt awed. I've felt amazed that a million years could make this possible, that these mountains are the result of tectonic plates floating on the earth's lava, just beneath my feet (a million miles below, but in the grand scheme not so very far), moving and shifting over thousands of years to bring this sight today. Or the result of water, such a powerful and vital source, moving through them. I've always loved these two types of geological formations: Mountains and cliffs. These are most often found near water, and water is the main reason they exist. Perhaps that's why I self-identify as a water-bender; while I am in awe of the formations of the rock, I am more in awe of the substance of their creation, that beautiful and sometimes absolutely treacherous force of nature that is vital to our very existence. My favorite places have always been near water, or some form of it: the mountains in wintertime, covered in snow; the Cape Cod National Seashore, or the Cape and Boston Bay itself, my home; Toledo, surrounded and protected by a massive river; even Carrick-a-Rede and the Giant's Causeway, still my favorite place I've ever been to (which may have been a result of the absolutely gorgeous weather, I'll admit), and still the wallpaper on my phone I will most likely always return to. Perhaps it's a result of growing up relatively near the seashore in East MA, and going to the Cape every year. Or maybe I'm truly just a water girl (I really never could imagine myself someplace with no water within a few hours trip--thank God Geneva is on a lake), but that's what I've found. And that's one of the things I thought of while in Zermatt.

And perhaps the reason I do not feel small or afraid when faced with these vast forces of nature is because I do not compare myself to them--in fact, I do not believe there is any comparison. We are apples and oranges, nature and humans. As humans, we only get a short amount of time--though it is growing longer, there is no comparison between something whose growth stages occur in years and decades and something whose growth stages occur in centuries. Those mountains have had a lot more time to form than I have--of course they're a lot more vast and grand!

As I was walking up the mountain, I remember (and wrote down) that I kept saying to myself, one bend more, one ridge more, I just want to see what's over that hill before I head down. Eventually, obviously, as it was getting dark and I'm clumsy at the best of times, I did have to turn around. And I'm not sure what it meant, that I wanted to keep going, but I think it has something to do with determination, being young, and being inexorably curious.

And lastly, as I am reading The Lord of the Rings, obviously: I am a wanderer, but I am not lost.

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